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The most striking birds of prey of Schinias National Park | Marathon - Greece

Schinias National Park is the hottest spot for birdwatching around Athens, with more than 200 species of birds recorded over the last years. While most of the area is covered by wetland and agricultural land, Marathon basin is sited at the migratory path of birds flying from Africa and back.


Migrating flock of Red-footed Falcons
Migrating flock of Red-footed Falcons | Pic: Spyros Skareas

Birds of prey are definitely a highlight sighting for any birdwatcher or bird photographer, so here are 3 of the most striking species of raptors that we could encounter at Schinias during a birding visit in the area.


1. Short- toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus)

Short-toed Eagle over Schinias National Park
Short-toed Eagle over Schinias National Park | Pic: Spyros Skareas

Seen from March to October, this impressive raptor is a common spring migrant and summer breeding species. It is also known as Snake Eagle, since its diet is mainly snakes and big lizards. The underside is white and the chin/throat are usually pale brown, which makes it unmistakable to identify. Often hovers with its wings wide open and looks like a gigantic Kestrel. We will probably observe it all around the Schinias wetlands and its surrounding hills, soaring and gliding in the air.


2. Red-footed Falcon (Falco vespertinus)

Red-footed Falcon is acrobatic air moves
Red-footed Falcon is acrobatic air moves | Pic: Spyros Skareas

This is the most colorful falcon of our region, seen in big flocks by the end of April. The fields of Ramnous as well as Schinias wetlands are the best areas to see these striking falcon, chasing large insects with acrobatic flight moves. The males are black-grey with orange “trousers” that form a unique silhouette. Females are mostly light orange, bearing marking around the eyes and “face”. This raptor is a target species for many birders visiting the area, since its occurrence in northern and western Europe is scarce.

 

3. Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus)

Long-legged Buzzard
Long-legged Buzzard | Pic: Spyros Skareas

Another special bird of prey of the region is the resident Long-legged Buzzard, that breeds in the hills around Schinias National Park. It has an eagle-like silhouette, with long finger-ended wings. Long legged Buzzards hover frequently, and this is when their cinnamon warm brown colors are mostly displayed. They feed on reptiles, mostly Balkan Green Lizards, and sometimes small birds, and large insects. For most of the birdwatchers that visit Athens for a birding trip, this is one of the lifer species and also a target for many bird photographers, as its European distribution is very restricted in the Balkan peninsula.



Spyros Skareas


We love marathon tourist guide application
Our volunteer, Spyros Skareas organizes tailor-made birding tours at Schinias National Park, all year long. For more details and booking information, please visit www.greecebirdtours.com

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